‘Institutional disablism’ is rife in the UK, according to a report published by Demos and Scope. Disablist Britain: Barriers to independent living for disabled people in 2006 documents for the first time the extent of systemic discrimination towards disabled people in the UK across employment, housing and social care, transport, leisure and status. The report was commissioned by disability organisation Scope in partnership with Disability Awareness in Action.
The report was launched on 9th March 2006 by John Hutton MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions at a Disablism Summit organised by Scope.
"The issues addressed in today's conference clearly set out the challenge we still face in creating an equal society”, said John Hutton MP. "It is vital that we collect evidence about the life chances of disabled people and that is why the Government's new Office for Disability Issues is working with disabled people and their representative organisations on ways of measuring progress towards our goal of a fully inclusive Britain."
The report draws upon statistical data from the largest number of sources yet committed to one volume on the subject, including government statistics, census figures and not-for-profit and think-tank polling, to outline disabled people’s experiences of British state and society.
"Disablism runs wild in our society because the evidence illustrating how disabled people are treated is rarely publicised or collated", says Tony Manwaring, Chief Executive of Scope. "Disablist Britain shows that whatever stone one upturns in this country, disablism lies beneath. We must find it and stomp it out. Only then will disabled people have the right, in practice, to make the same choices as non-disabled people to live the lives they choose."
Demos and the disability partners behind the report hope that the audit will contribute towards the creation of a benchmark against which to measure, identify and eradicate disablism. The validity and methodology of measuring disablism is also addressed by the authors.
"Measuring the extent of institutional and cultural prejudice against disabled people is the first step to making disablism history", says Sarah Gillinson of Demos, one of the report’s authors. "Empowering individual disabled people to use measures of discrimination to highlight and begin tackling the daily injustices they face, is the crucial next step."
Disablist Britain follows two earlier Scope and DDA commissioned Demos reports: Disablism: How to tackle the last prejudice and Independent Living as part of Scope’s Time to Get Equal campaign. It takes inspiration from Professor Colin Barnes’ groundbreaking 1991 work, Disabled People in Britain and Discrimination.
Notes to editors
- Disablist Britain: Barriers to independent living for disabled people in 2006by Sarah Gillinson, Julia Huber and Paul Miller is published by Scope with Demos and Disability Awareness in Action on Thursday 9th March 2006. Copies can be downloaded from www.demos.co.uk/publications/disablistbritain
- Sarah Gillinson and Julia Huber are researchers at Demos. Paul Miller is a Demos Associate.
- Scope is a national disability organisation whose focus is cerebral palsy. Its aim is that disabled people achieve equality: a society in which they are as valued and have the same human and civil rights as everyone else. www.scope.org.uk
- Disablist Britain is part of Scope’s ongoing Time to Get Equal campaign which aims to raise awareness of the problems and barriers faced by disabled people in their everyday lives, demand improvements in the attitudes and actions that disabled people experience and build a mass movement of disabled and non-disabled people campaigning and working towards equality. www.timetogetequal.org.uk
- Demos is the think-tank for everyday democracy. It has a strong interest in equality and the importance of influencing public attitudes.
- Disability Awareness in Action (DAA) is an international human rights network, run for and by disabled people. Its aim is to give disabled people information and support material to help them take effective action for themselves.